10 Tips to Make Your Gym Membership Pay Off
10 Tips to Make Your Gym Membership Pay Off
By Emily Battaglia, LifeScript Staff Writer
Published March 16, 2007
Gym memberships are useless when you spend most of your time waiting for others to get off the machines you want or trying to muster up the motivation to go to the gym in the first place. But a lot of people shell out big bucks only to realize the error of their ways months later. To get the most out of your gym membership, you have to know how to work the system. Here are 10 tips to help you get in top shape with a gym membership. Plus: Use our quiz to find out your fitness style. You've finally decided to shed those extra pounds with the help of a gym. Many people hope that the sheer act of paying for a place to work out will provide enough motivation to follow through. But thatâs not always the case.
The first mistake you can make is joining the wrong gym. And it's not hard to do when you're bombarded with package deals, special incentives and membership fees. Who wants to waste time comparing every fitness club in town?
The second mistake prospective gym rats make is not taking advantage of everything the gym has to offer. Props to you for sticking with your every-other-day elliptical session, but are you really getting your money's worth?
Here are 10 tips to help you choose a gym that's just right for you:
1. Firm up your fitness goals. Which ones will a gym help you achieve? Do you want to simply improve your health or to train for the Boston Marathon? Setting goals will help you hone in on what you want from a gym and know which local clubs' offerings best suit your needs. If you enjoy swimming, pick a gym with a lap pool. If you're a stationary bike and free weights kind of gal, don't waste your money on a fancy health club with all the amenities.
2. Consider location. Choose a gym close to your home or office to make fitting workouts into your schedule easier. It's hard not to lose motivation when you have to drive 45 minutes every time you want to work out.
3. Ask for a complimentary day pass. Most gyms offer these to prospective members as an incentive to join. If the gym doesn't give passes, it's worth buying a day pass to evaluate whether this is the right place for you.
4. Know your likes/dislikes.Keep in mind that if you enjoy competitive sports or exercising in an outdoor setting, a gym might not be right for you. That is, unless you want to tone up for your favorite physical activity or supplement it.
5. Take a gym class or two, or five! Experiment with everything from group cycling and circuit training to cardio striptease and PiYo. Mixing your tried-and-true cardio workout on the treadmill with classes can give you better results and alleviate gym burnout. Plus, classes are a great way to meet people and make exercising more interesting.
If you don't want to take the entire class, choose a spot at the back and use the first 20 minutes as a warm-up. Check the group exercise schedule to find a class that fits into your time frame.
6. Hire a certified personal trainer. Most trainers charge per session or for a set number of sessions. They can be pricey, but if you're a gym virgin with no idea how to use the preacher curl machine, these pros can show you how to use the equipment properly and tailor a routine to your specific needs. Overall, they're a great investment.
Some gyms even offer one free session with a personal trainer when you join. He or she can help you come up with a personalized workout routine, so use this freebie wisely.
7. Leave your inhibitions at the door. Aside from a few guys looking to pick up girls, most people are at the gym for the same reasons: to improve their health and fitness level, and to get a better body. Theyâve all got different ways of achieving their goals. Don't let the ultra-intense woman on the next machine over intimidate you. Instead, use her as a motivator to work harder. Remember, you're not here to impress people. You're here to improve yourself.
8. Get a taste of all your gym has to offer. Some gyms' elaborate equipment and extensive class lists can seem overwhelming. How do you choose what to use? Experiment with everything. Your body will tell you what it likes and doesn't like. Branch out beyond the few machines you know how to work with. When in doubt, ask a staff member for help with an unfamiliar machine.
9. Integrate resistance training into your routine. You might not have access to weight machines, dumbbells or resistance bands at home, so it's important to add weights to your workout at the gym. Studies have shown that this helps you burn more calories, even after you've finished your workout.
10. Bring a cheat sheet. Clip and save weight-training and mat exercises from fitness magazines, and take them with you to try at the gym.
Remember, to maximize the money you've spent on your gym membership, you have to show up, believe in your abilities and work hard. The more time and effort you invest, the bigger the payoff for your body and your overall health!
What's Your Fitness Style? Some people find it easy to set the alarm clock for 4:30 a.m. and jump out of bed for a five-mile run, while others end up hitting the snooze button instead of the gym. Specific aspects of your personality determine what kind of exerciser you are, so if you've found yourself in a fitness rut, it's time to put your unique interests back into the equation. Take this fitness quiz to find out which kinds of exercise are right for you.